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How to show your love in a long distance relationship

How to Show Love in a Long Distance Relationship

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All romantic (& platonic) relationships are complicated. Add long distance to the mix, and they’re even more so. And one of the most difficult parts of a long distance relationship is knowing how to effectively and adequately express your love.

Even when both parties seem to be highly motivated, it takes a lot of conscious effort and intentional commitment to make a long distance relationship work. To maintain a loving and fulfilling relationship from afar, you’ll probably need to be a bit more creative about expressing love to your partner, and that’s why I wrote this post!

I’m no stranger to long-distance relationships. Living and traveling abroad for as long as I have has led to long distance relationships of all kinds.

My current boyfriend and I entered into a long-distance relationship just months after meeting. We were both extremely nervous, having endured long distance love before, but decided that we were willing to put in the effort and do our best to make it work.

Octavio and I on a trip during our long distance relationship.

Having just begun our romance, we still had so much to learn about each other. We decided to use our time apart as a way to connect deeper and build a strong foundation for our relationship.

And so, we started a 21-day couple’s intimacy challenge through email, and two particular activities really helped us create that strong foundation we were looking for, discovering our “Love Languages” and Building our “Love Maps.”

For today’s purposes of discussing how to show and express love from a distance, I’m focusing on Love Languages

Step 1: Discover your love languages.

If you haven’t done so already, take some time to discover and explore your “Love Languages,” or the ways that you give and receive love, with your partner.

Dr. Gary Chapman, New York Times bestseller and creator of The 5 Love Languages®, researched and uncovered the five foundational ways that we humans express and experience love.

The five love languages that Chapman outlines in his research and books are: 

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Greater awareness of our primary love language, and that of our partner, allows us to communicate more effectively and understand each other better.

Everyone gives and receives love a bit differently, and so some insight into our own love languages allows us to become better equipped to express our love to one another, even from afar.

LONG-DISTANCE PARTNER ACTIVITY: Take this online quiz to learn your Love Languages.

Once you know your own love languages, and those of your partner, you can incorporate some of the following practices and activities into your long distance relationship and make sure you’re never at a loss for showing your love!

My boyfriend and I on a trip to Panama, during our long distance relationship

If your partner’s primary love language is “Words of Affirmation”

I’m starting with “Words of Affirmation,” as this is my primary love language!

What this means for me is that I value open and honest communication, and it makes me feel good when my partner verbally tells me how he feels about me. Simply hearing the words, “I love you,” “I miss you,” and “I appreciate you,” made ALL the difference to me during those daunting months of long-distance.

The words of affirmation love language is a fairly simple one to master in a long distance relationship, as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

Here’s how you can show love through words from a distance:

Communicate from the heart.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to your partner and tell them how you feel. When you miss them, tell them. Thinking about them a lot today? Let them know.

If your partner’s primary love language is “words of affirmation,” they can’t hear “I love you” enough. The simple act of reaching out and using your words show them your love, appreciation, and gratitude will mean the world.

Send voice notes.

When speaking from the heart, I’ve found that a voice note carries so much more weight than a text message. Hearing your voice will add a special layer of love to your message.

Send your partner a love letter.

Who said chivalry is dead? ?  A creative way to show your love through words of affirmation when texts and voice notes aren’t cutting it is to send a love letter. This could be a long-form email, or even better a hand-written snail mail letter.

There’s something so special about receiving surprise mail. No one sends or receives snail mail anymore! This is not only a great way to tell your partner how you feel but also shows them that you took the time to go out of your way just to tell them how much you care.

Send your partner an old fashioned love letter while in a long distance relationship

If your partner’s primary love language is “Acts of Service”

Contrary to the “words of affirmations” love language, the “acts of service” love language is all show don’t tell. Those who value acts of service feel that actions speak louder than words.

Here’s how to show your love through service and making an effort from afar:

Step in without having to be asked.

If you want to totally knock it out of the park, do your best to actively listen and figure out what you can do for your partner, without being told or asked. What’s on their mind? What’s stressing them out? What’s something they are struggling with?

Anticipate their needs and support them in any way you can.

For example: While traveling in Mexico, I came down with a cold and was feeling really crappy. My boyfriend sneakily got in contact with my friend and found out where we were. He then had some meds, vitamin C tablets, and cough drops delivered to the cafe where we were working.

That little act of service, and knowing that he was willing to go out of his way to do something nice for me, turned my whole day around.

Plan something special for your partner.

Depending on what’s going on in your partner’s life at the moment, take the initiative to plan something nice for them.

Have they mentioned that they’re sore from working out? Why not organize a massage? Stressed from a packed schedule? See if there’s anything practical you can do to lighten the load. Working late nights at the office? Send a delivery order of their favorite meal.

How to embrace acts of service in a long distance relationship

If your partner’s primary love language is “Receiving Gifts”

Of the five love languages, I think this one gets a bad rap and is often the most misunderstood. If your partner’s primary love language is “receiving gifts” this doesn’t mean that they are selfish or materialistic. What it does mean is that your partner values “visible symbols of love.”

In order to feel connected and loved, they need some physical proof. This “gift” is a reminder of your love and how much you care. More important than the price tag or item itself is the thought and effort behind it.

Here’s how to spoil your partner with gifts from a distance:

Surprise your partner with a thoughtful care package.

Like the “words of affirmation” love letter, surprise snail mail is sure to bring happiness. A thoughtful care package will not only brighten your partner’s day but also show them that you’re thinking about them.

What should you put in your package? Well, only you can know what is sure to put a smile on their face. Is there some particular food or item that they can’t get where they currently are? What about some of their favorite snacks, books, or games? You can even send a premade package using services like Package Penguin or Knack.

Send your partner something that reminds them of you.

Giving a thoughtful gift that also serves as an extra special reminder of you is a double whammy. Chances are your partner is seriously missing you, and so sending them a gift that will help them keep you close is not only thoughtful but also very comforting.

You can put together an album or scrapbook with your favorite photos together. Or, if you and your partner have any inside jokes you can send a funny little reminder. Is there a certain item or food that you usually eat or use while you’re together? Get creative.

It doesn’t have to be something big, but it should be something that the two of you have in common or share a common interest in.

Treat your partner to something special.

As I mentioned above, the price tag on your gift is not what’s important. If you’re willing and able to splurge on something special for your partner, go for it! Not in that position? That’s fine too!

Treating your partner doesn’t necessarily mean emptying your wallet. It means listening and taking action.

Is there a particular piece of clothing they’ve been wanting to purchase, but have been putting off? An online class or app subscription they’ve been eyeing? Maybe there’s a specific restaurant they’ve mentioned a few times but haven’t tried yet. Are you able to purchase a gift card, or send an UberEats delivery to their home?

Getting the idea here…?

Send your partner a handmade and thoughtful scrapbook

If your partner’s primary love language is “Quality Time”

If your partner’s primary love language is “quality time,” it means that they really value spending time with you and having your undivided attention without distractions.

While “spending time together” may look a bit different in a long-distance relationship, it’s still very possible to accomplish.

My secondary love language, and that of my boyfriend, is quality time. When first starting out with our long distance relationship, I realized that most of our minor tiffs occurred when we had gone days without spending real quality time together.

Here are some ways we worked together to show our love through “quality time” from a distance:

Schedule out quality time together on your calendar.

For some reason, when we’re not physically with someone, it can feel more difficult to carve out quality time to spend with them, especially if you’re in different time zones.

What I find works really well is to agree upon a set date and time with your partner and schedule it into your calendar. Treat it as you would any other meeting, coffee date or dinner reservation. Don’t reschedule unless absolutely necessary.

Make sure you’re fully present when spending time together.

As I mentioned above, part of the “quality time” love language is to feel like you’re receiving your partner’s undivided attention. That means it’s not only important to spend time together but to be fully present during that time together. No, a spastic call while you’re in line at the grocery store will not cut it…

Make sure you’re free of distractions and somewhere calm and quiet where you can fully concentrate and connect with your partner. Put your phone on silent, turn off the TV, and don’t try to multi-task.

Get creative with dates to create lasting memories.

Just because you’re apart doesn’t mean that Facetime or Skype dates have to be focused solely on talking all the time. Doing the same thing over and over, no matter what it is, can get monotonous and frankly, boring.

Switch things up and plan some creative long distance date nights, such as cooking dinner together or taking a live online workout class at the same time.

Schedule quality time in with your partner while in a long distance relationship.

If your partner’s primary love language is “Physical Touch”

Yes, you caught me. I saved the most complicated for last …

If your partner’s primary love language happens to be physical touch, like my boyfriend’s is, you’ll most likely have to put on your thinking cap and think outside the box.

The “physical touch” love language is all about expressing love through physical closeness and touching whenever possible. These people like to be shown love through hugging, kissing, cuddling, and holding hands.

So how ON EARTH can you do this from a distance?

Well, you can’t. But until you can be together and embrace once more, here are some creative ideas for the next best thing:

Use your words (& emojis) to describe touch.

With this one, feel to keep it as PG or go as R-rated as you and your partner feel comfortable. What? You know you were already thinking it… For purposes of this post, I’ll keep things PG.

Tell your partner how much you miss them and can’t wait to jump up and wrap your arms around them. Tell them how you miss cuddling or giving them massages when you are together. Describe the warm fuzzy feeling you get when they grab ahold of your hand. ?‍♂️?

Give your partner an item to act as a physical reminder of you.

Gift your partner something comfortable and cozy like a soft blanket, stuffed animal, or fuzzy sweater that they can snuggle with when you’re not around.

For an added bonus, spray this thing with your perfume or cologne (if you wear one) so it smells like you. Don’t wear one? Wash this item with your go-to laundry detergent. Scents are extremely powerful triggers of memories and can make it feel like you’re close, even when you’re far.

How to deal with the physical touch love language in a long distance relationship.

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How to Express Love in Long Distance Relationships with ideas for all 5 love languages. This post breaks down the different ways of expressing and receiving love and how to embrace them in a long distance relationship. It includes long distance gift ideas and date ideas. It also includes long distance relationship tips and advice for building a strong foundation. #longdistance #longdistancerelationships

What are your love languages? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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